This Time Magazine article investigates charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of collection money by Catholic priests.
Over the past few years, clerics in a variety of states have been indicted for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars, sometimes over a period of decades.
The Catholic Church is worried that it may be facing a new scandal, just as it was beginning to recover from the sexual-abuse crisis that came to a head in 2002. In a recent study, as many as 85 percent of U.S. Catholic dioceses reported embezzlement cases, either by priests or laypeople, and 11 percent reported scandals of $500,000 or more.
Embezzlement is often a problem of nonprofit organizations, but Catholic parishes may be particularly vulnerable because of the antiquated ways in which they often gather money.
Just to be clear, I am not running this article to be critical of the Catholic Church but only as a warning, consistent with the fraud and deception concerns that I often post here.
I was raised as a Catholic, went to nine years of a Catholic grade school and even served as an "altar boy". In fact, I was seriously considering going into the priesthood at one time, but then shifted my sights to becoming an astronaut and eventually a physician.
Based on my studies of personal development literature and the Bible for many years, I am absolutely convinced on many levels of the importance of tithing -- giving 10 percent of your income away. If everyone tithed and gave their donations to responsible entities, I firmly believe we could reduce our tax rate to almost zero, as we would not need to inappropriately rely on government to provide social charity that is far better administered by private entities.
Furthermore, I believe a lifetime of personal tithing has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed thus far in life, another reason I strongly encourage others to apply this amazing principle in their own lives. From what I understand this works best if you don't expect anything in return but just do it because you realize that it is the right thing to do.
That's why I find this Time story so devastating. The Catholic Church is the largest church in America, based on many surveys of religious affiliations. It deeply saddens me to see so much of the hard earned revenue donated was being embezzled.
So, I feel it is my responsibility to bring this to the attention of those who are attending Catholic churches so they can hold their priests accountable to make sure this does not continue to occur, and that the hard earned donations can really be used to serve those who truly need it.
I suspect that the Catholic church is not the only church where embezzlement occurs. So if you are donating to your church my caution is don't do it blindly. Do it with responsibility.
It is important to be a wise steward of your donations so they are used most effectively. This is not an easy assignment. The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, is actually scheduled to retire from heading Microsoft and head up his philanthropic efforts so he can use his business sense full time for the benefit of others.
Most of you reading this won't have the same problem in finding out how to responsibly distribute billions of dollars, but whatever you donate, make sure that the funds are being used wisely.
On Vital Votes, Russ from Soquel, California adds: